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Lakers vs. Jazz Preview: Tank will probably get back on track in second game of back-to-back

Utah desperately needs wins for seeding purposes and the Lakers, well, they don’t.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Pro-tanking fans who were upset that the Los Angeles Lakers dared to win a couple games in a row will probably see that crime rectified Wednesday night, as they will travel on the second night of a back-to-back to Utah to take on the Jazz.

After beating the Washington Wizards the night before, the Lakers said they would make a decision on LeBron James’ availability based on how he’s feeling the morning after. We’ve still yet to get an official update on this, but it’s hard to see James (who is still recovering from the groin injury and now a knee issue) playing given how little the Lakers have at stake in these games.

Whether or not James plays, the Jazz are just better than the Lakers right now, given all the injuries elsewhere around the roster. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have both been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Josh Hart and Tyson Chandler were held out Tuesday night. Mike Muscala was listed as questionable but he didn’t play either (though that probably helps the Lakers at this point). That’s just too many injuries to compete with a team fighting desperately to improve their playoff seed.

UPDATE: LeBron James will NOT be playing tonight.

One thing to watch for Wednesday night will be Kyle Kuzma trying to get back on track. Over his last four games, he has shot just 32.9 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from three-point range. Now, his chances of doing that if James sits out probably aren’t all that great as he’d likely be the focal point of Utah’s defensive strategy, but all the same, it’d be nice to see him start to get things going as this season comes to a close.

Part of the reason for Kuzma’s struggles has been shot selection, which, again probably won’t improve with so many players out Wednesday night, but he’s making the game a lot hard on himself than he has to, and simplifying however he can would hopefully allow him to stop this slide.

Tip-off for Wednesday night’s game will be 7:30 PM PDT and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

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